Anniversaries, like this year in which Investment Advisor marks its 30th birthday, tend to make me introspective and retrospective. Throughout the year we will report on the big trends that will affect your lives and practices for the next 30 years. This month’s cover story addresses this increasingly diverse, marvelous country of ours, and makes some suggestions on how you might thrive–and where you might find clients–in this future that’s already here. That leads me to consider the whole topic of immigration, which is always bubbling beneath the surface among my co-citizens during times of economic distress.
While some descendants in belief of the Know-Nothings of the 1800s might pine for some mythical United States where all the citizens have names like, well, Green, and speak as well as this writer does, they are misinformed in thinking that such a place ever existed. Just as this writer is the son of an immigrant, so too is much of the country. The Census Bureau found in 2000 that 31.1 million of the 281.4 million population of the United States was foreign born. That’s 11.1% of the population. In 1870, 14.4% of the population was foreign born; in 1910 the percentage was 14.7%; and even in 1930 it was 11.6%. Somehow the nation has survived for over 100 years with such a high percentage of “foreigners” roaming the country.
Moreover, were it not for immigration into this country, and the fecundity of those immigrants, our already troubled Social Security system would resemble the pathetic state of affairs in countries like Japan, Italy, and Germany, where restrictive immigration policies and low birth rates spell big trouble, and soon, since those countries subscribe to high social services and Bismarckian pay-as-you-go pension systems.